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Journal Article

An Investigation of Alignment in CMC from a Sociocognitive Perspective

Baburhan Uzum
CALICO Journal
Vol. 28, No. 1 (2010), pp. 135-155
Published by: Equinox Publishing Ltd.
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Page Count: 21
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An Investigation of Alignment in CMC from a Sociocognitive Perspective
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ABSTRACT Computer technology improves the process of SLA by providing access to an ample amount of input within a communicative context in which participants can engage in synchronous and asynchronous conversations (Payne & Whitney, 2002; Sykes, 2005). This research project aims to investigate the role of alignment in learning a second language within the context of CMC informed by a sociocognitive perspective. Alignment can be operationalized as “the means by which human actors dynamically adapt to—that is, flexibly depend on, integrate with, and construct—the ever changing mind-bodyworld environments” (Atkinson, Churchill, Nishino, & Okada, 2007, p. 171). The participants (N = 18) are students in an intermediate-level ESL class. The study uses mixed methods and follows an exploratory and inferential approach. The data collection instruments include the transcripts of chat sessions and students' reports from the stimulated recall on their transcripts. This study suggests that participants in a CMC environment display alignment towards each other and to the context of interaction in the domains of fluency and speed, accuracy, lexical and grammatical choices, content agreement, and negotiation of meaning. In the acquisition of a second language, alignment could serve not only pragmatic purposes, enhancing the interaction and lessening ambiguity, but also pose learning opportunities as an outcome of synchronized behavior.

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